WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The United States and Israel have decided to postpone an upcoming, large-scale joint naval exercise because of growing tensions with Iran.
Officials said the war games, originally scheduled for May and named "Austere Challenge," would not happen until later in the year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is scheduled to arrive in Israel this week for discussions with Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz about a possible military strike against Iran to stop its nuclear program.
Former Israeli chief of staff Moshe Yaalon said Sunday the international community must force Iran to "face the dilemma of choosing between its nuclear program or its regime as soon as possible," adding tougher sanctions were necessary to isolate the regime.
"The military option must come last," said Yaalon, who added, "Israel must be prepared to defend itself."
Iranian officials have maintained that their nuclear research is intended for peaceful purposes only. They have also accused the United States and Israel of being responsible for the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist last week in Tehran. Both countries have denied the allegations.